Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Implicit Questions

In many questions, there are multiple sub-questions.  Take, for example, the question:  Why are you so tired?  You may respond first by answering the unasked but implicit question by declaring:  “But I am not tired”.  That is not what the question asked.  Such an answer is a response to the implied question within the question, of:  “Are you tired?”  To the question actually asked, the proper response might be:  I stayed up late last night reading.  The presumptive sub-question unstated and silent but implicit in the major question posited in duality of a contingent combination, is precisely what is often termed as “lawyerly”, and thus somehow deceitful, tricky and attempting to subvert by having the responder accept a non-explicit presumption of facts.

The classic example, of course, is the cross-examination query stated variously as:  “When did you stop beating your wife?”  Before an objection is launched, the unwary witness might respond, “I didn’t” – meaning (from the witness’ perspective) that he never beat his wife in the first place, when in fact such a response evokes a different meaning – that the individual never stopped beating his wife, and continues to do so up until the present.  There is, in such a duality of question/sub-question combination, the presumptive prefatory inquiry, stated as:  “Have you ever beaten your wife?”

It is, in many ways, the capacity and ability to dissect and recognize the need to bifurcate or even trifurcate linguistic bundles that require thought, reflection and insightful methodologies in order to help define existence as successful or otherwise challenging.   Life is a tough road to forge; language opens the world by allowing for avenues and pathways of communication, but it also compels constructing obstacles that deflect and defeat the reality of Being surrounding us.

In the linear historicity of language and the explosion of thought, conceptual paradigms and communication inventories, the commingling of questions, the looseness of language and the careless ways in which thoughts are provoked, may lend itself to confusion, puzzlement and an inability to solve problems.  That is, of course, the strength of argument impounded by the British Empiricists, and while their collective denial of any substantive issues inherent in philosophical problems is itself suspect, their contribution in attempting to identify peripheral, “non-substantive” issues arising from the imprecise usage of language, in contradistinction to central and essential conundrums, helps us all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing to formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, a word to the wise:  SF 3112A contains multiple implicit questions, and bifurcation – nay, trifurcation – is an important element to consider and resolve.  Be cognizant of the implicit question – lest you answer the major question without considering the prefatory query.  Standard Forms are replete with compound questions, and the unwary will inevitably fall into the trap of answering the question posed on the surface, and in so doing, admit to facts presumptively “hidden” in sub-questions unasked.

Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application requires the effort of untangling such compounding and confounding queries; it is up to the unwary Federal or Postal employee to bifurcate and trifurcate such attempts, and to dissect, with precision of purpose, the questions unasked, and answer those which are both prefatory and sequential.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Myth of Upward Progression

We like to think that life is represented by a linear curve of upward progression; in reality, most of us reach an apex, then remain static and content in the late summer years of our lives.  There is nothing wrong with such a state of affairs; as contentment and comfort embrace a spectrum of stability, so the refusal of change and resistance to vicissitude are not indicators of laziness, as once thought in former days of youth where transition, sacrifice and relinquishment of stability were necessary for purposes of future advancement.

Most of us, within a defined minefield of progress and regress, remain within an invisible glass casing of immobility.  Perhaps there is a major financial setback in a given year; or, a promotion or cash incentive award had not been achieved; but in the year following, or the next beyond, it is attained; or an unexpected windfall allows for greater stability least anticipated and most gratifying.

In a sense, we delude ourselves.  But so long as we remain within a constancy of comfort, where an appearance of major retrogression cannot be palpably discerned, contentment prevails, and the bother of breaking new grounds, moving to a larger house, taking on greater responsibilities, adding to headaches and stresses, can be quietly forsaken, left with the self-satisfaction that quietude is a byproduct of a goal once sought for, and achieved without fanfare or celebration.  It is when the bounds of contentment are scattered, the barriers of satisfaction crumbling, when the call to action is suddenly a turmoil of exoneration, and peace as shattered glass stepped upon in bare feet of bleeding souls, that affirmative movement must then be spurred, leaving behind those spurned opportunities once thought cumbersome.

Medical conditions have a tendency to create such circumstances of unrest.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that the chaos of inchoate situations developing because of a chronic and progressively deteriorating medical condition impacts upon the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the possibility and need for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes a reality which disturbs and perturbs the quietude of living contentedly.

When a medical condition disrupts that glass bowl of satisfaction, the myth of upward progression becomes shattered, because suddenly all that one has worked to achieve may be in doubt.

Most of us are happy to just find that small oasis within the turbulent oceans of insanity we designate as “civilized society”; but for the Federal or Postal employee who must contend with a medical condition such that the medical condition threatens the very foundation of one’s hard-fought dreams and desultory circumstances, consideration needs to be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, if only to resist the temptation that static circumstances are a foregone conclusion, or that the myth of upward progression cannot be defeated by planning for the next great adventure in this, a universe of turbulence of unexpected turmoil.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Excision & Expiation

Sometimes, the former must be engaged in order to save the whole, lest the lesser segment spreads to infect the greater; while in different circumstances, of contexts involving spiritual offenses, the latter may suffice through acceptable acts of contrition or penance paid through rote words of sincere atonements.  In other instances, the act of the latter may account for the former, while the satisfaction through the former may be sufficient to complete the latter.

Excision is to surgically sever and remove, and then to discard and alienate from the body of which it was once a part; while expiation is to similarly remove, but which can still remain as a part of one’s history of misdeeds.  Both are acts engaged in for purposes of atonement beyond the present state of existential negativity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who, despite the ongoing flagellation compounded by one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service upon the aggregation of negativity impounded through one’s deteriorating medical condition, continue to endure the proverbial adage that when it rains, it pours, consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In many ways, filing for Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to the duality of acts involving excision and expiation; for, like the former, approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity by OPM results in a separation from that very body of which the Federal or Postal employee was once a part of; and like the latter, it resolves the ongoing conflict and struggle between the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, and the Federal entity or the U.S. Postal Service, in terms of work left undone, dissatisfaction because of lost time, excessive use of Sick Leave, or exhaustion of FMLA benefits, etc.

From the perspective of the Federal agency or the Post Office, excision is the preferred methodology, as the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can then replace the separated employee with someone else.

From the perspective of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit amounts to an expiation of sorts, as rendering a benefit to make it all worthwhile, for the years of dedicated service and sacrifice given, and a recognition that those achievements and accomplishments have not been for naught, despite what the last remaining years where deteriorating health and progressively debilitating medical conditions wrought upon one’s reputation and employment relationships.

Excision and expiation; they are the dual forms of atonement for the Federal or Postal employee who takes the affirmative steps in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, when it becomes apparent that loss of physical or mental capacity in the face of impending health conditions is not a basis for surrendering to the inevitable vicissitudes of what life brings to the fore of man’s future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: McKenna’s Pass

It was an old mining town, once boasting of a bustling main street, filled with commotion, commerce and conversation, where expectations of future success and advancement were brimming with hope and activity.  People said that it would always be the bellwether of the country; as McKenna’s Pass went, so goes the nation.

The origin of its name was somewhat in dispute.  Old Timers who harkened of past days of glory tried to inject their hoarse voices over the din of youth to get their two cents in, that the origination of the town’s name came from when the days of ore traders would pass through to cities of greater significance, and McKenna just happened to pause for a few days longer than most, and thus the designation.

Others of a more youthful persuasion attributed the misnomer and thought it concealed the darker side of the town’s council, where “Past” was grammatically mispronounced in their minds despite the prominent sign at the north entryway of the town; but then, who among those who live in a place ever notice the signs coming in?  Growth, future prospects and the promise of unceasing expectations would outpace even the greatest of cities.  “They’ll see,” was always the reply when doubts surfaced; always, there was a glint of mischief pervading, as if the “insiders” knew something beyond what the rest of the nation didn’t.

Somewhere along the line, something happened.  No one knows what, or how, or even when.  The first sign was the grocery store that closed; the owner’s wife suddenly died, and it was like the oxygen was sucked out of a vibrant life, and without warning an implosion left a devastation beyond repair.  Then, graffiti appeared; people never suspected the kids from their own neighborhoods, as the pride of McKenna’s Pass was beyond such acts of hooliganism.  Other towns and cities may have been ashamed of their residents and nefarious neighbors who engaged in untold acts in the dead of night; this town never had to look away, or so the thought was.  Then a gas explosion ripped through the Southwestern end of Main Street; rumors began to surface; the Town Council’s senior member resigned with charges of kickbacks.

Change was in the air; inevitably, future expectations once anticipated by youthful folly was butting heads with the reality of present circumstances.  People could smell the aroma of death or, if not such a dramatic and sudden cessation, certainly decay around the edges.

Medical conditions and changes in one’s future plans have a tendency to do just that.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that one’s invincible plans of latter years of youthful enthusiasm are now requiring the tinkering of repair and replacement, the view towards change can be merely a picture window needing an alteration of interior design.  Medical conditions can prompt the necessity for change; and while change is often difficult to accept and undertake, one cannot fight against those forces beyond one’s control.

When the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker begins to experience an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal Service, it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, as the townspeople in McKenna’s Pass may have thought that the future would always be one of growth, advancement and greater achievement, the reality is that contraction often follows expansion, and the certitude that life never remains static is a truth where youth’s folly ignores the wisdom of ages, as the empty buildings and hollow passageways echoing of silent plans left unfulfilled reverberate through the once-promising days of a town we knew as “McKenna’s Pass”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire